Utz-Hellmuth Felcht, the group's chairman, said that the results were inline with expectations and suggested that Degussa's core business (fine andindustrial chemicals, construction chemicals, performance materials,coatings and polymers) would be able to report a small improvement in salesand earnings for the full year.
Degussa recently reorganised its food ingredients activities, which now come under the performance materials division. With sales of €600 million, the unit generates a fraction of the group's revenue but the company remains a key player in health ingredients, such as phospholipids and amino acids, as well as creatine.
At the group overall sales slipped 4 per cent to €2.69 billion, although in the corebusiness, first-quarter sales were down 2 per cent to €2.63 billion, whichDegussa said was 'entirely due to adverse exchange rate movements'.
Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) grew by 7 per cent to €224 millionin the core business), and were up 5 per cent overall to €217 million. Groupnet income improved from €73 million in the first quarter of 2003 to €89million.
Degussa's non-core businesses include SKW Metallurgie, Oxxynova, theC3-based oxo chemicals business and Goldschmidt's industrial chemicalsoperations, all of which are earmarked for divestment.